The delicate art of bus throwing
eThekwini mayor and ANC chairperson Zandile Gumede’s delivery is somewhat robotic as she throws the city’s head of parks, recreation and culture, Thembinkosi Ngcobo, under the bus because of municipality’s plan to help former president Jacob Zuma out with his multimillion-rand legal bill by giving him a R25-million recording deal.
I’m late for the mayor’s briefing, called in the face of the backlash from the public and opposition parties about the record deal, which came on the back of another city plan to spend R20-million on two statues. One of them is for Nxamalala, as Zuma is known to the faithful.
The statue plan has already taken two in the chest and one in the head — at least until after elections — and now the city is stalling on naming the sculptor and implementing the project.
I’d been struggling to drag myself away from the TV screen and former Bosasa operations head Angelo Agrizzi’s testimony before the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture. As a result I’ve missed the formal briefing, but have arrived in time to watch, from a distance, the mayor giving a TV a squizz in the parking lot outside the stadium’s executive suites.
Perhaps it’s the sun blazing above the Moses Mabhida Stadium, where the city decided to host its executive committee meeting, but the mayor’s eyes appear focused on some remote point and her tone is somewhat short of convincing as she distances the city from its plan to fund a recording deal for Zuma.
Mama, as she is known to her ANC supporters in the city, shows no emotion as she apologises to the former head of state for his good name being dragged through the mud by Ngcobo, who, the mayor says, had gone off half-cocked in announcing a plan to pay for an album of struggle songs sung by Nxamalala, backed, at least according to Ngcobo, by Ladysmith Black Mambazo and the lucky winners of a talent search sponsored by the city.
Ngcobo, she adds, had no mandate to announce the record deal when he hit our TV screens at the time of the ANC’s manifesto launch in Durban earlier in the month.
No resolution had been taken to fund the deal, no city process had been followed by Ngcobo, a deputy city manager, who had, according to the mayor, just made the whole thing up. The city, she says, only heard about the nonexistent plan in the media. The mayor then marches off to NDM 1, climbs aboard the vehicle and heads out of the stadium.
Ngcobo had visited Zuma along with councillors to inform him about the deal. Why would he have done this without consulting his lahnee? That doesn’t make any sense at all.
Talk in city circles is that the mayor and Ngcobo don’t get on because of his ambitions to run the city, and her lack of trust for senior officials appointed before her tenure began in August 2016, but I can’t see him having the guts to initiate such an expensive homage to Zuma without Mama’s go-ahead.
I head home. Hit a news channel.
Agrizzi is still at it.
It’s day six of Agrizzi’s testimony. At least I think it’s day six.
It has become a little difficult to tell one day of the bagman’s testimony from the next. The deluge of filth from Bosasa chief executive Gavin Watson’s former fixer is unending, a sickening torrent of wall-to-wall bribery, tender manipulation, greed and total disrespect for the republic, its laws and the people living in it.
Agrizzi is throwing people under a whole fleet of buses. In fact, Agrizzi is delivering a masterclass in the art of throwing people under the bus. Watson, Zuma, Nomvula Mokonyane, several correctional services national commissioners and a bucket-load of prison officials have already been named as being on Agrizzi’s bought-and-paid-for list. At the rate Agrizzi’s going, he will need to borrow the entire Durban Transport bus fleet to deal with his throwees.
I have mixed feelings about Agrizzi.
On the one hand, he looks like a dirty 1980s Security Branch motherfucker. He was at the heart of a huge — and successful — bid to corrupt the civil service, steal from the poor, and from you and me. Agrizzi is part of the reason black contractors can’t get government work, a key part of the criminal corporation that’s brought South Africa to the verge of bankruptcy, a crook who is singing for survival.
On the other, Agrizzi’s not only burning his accomplices but is also providing a detailed picture of how state capture works and — as importantly — what needs to be done to close some of the loopholes exploited by the other Bosasas out there.
And they are many.